The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School
Sonia M. Rosa
In the last two years of the nineteenth century and opening years of the twentieth,
victorious in the Spanish American War, the U.S. government approved a series of grants
and actions aimed at "Americanizing" the residents of their newest possession, Puerto
Rico. In the process, at least 60 Puerto Rican children were sent to be re-educated at the
Carlisle Indian Industrial School, where the motto was, "Kill the Indian, save the man."
Founded in 1878 by Captain Richard Henry Pratt, the purpose of the Carlisle School was
to create a new mainstream identity for Indians, to change them into something
"acceptable" for the society of the times.
It all began after the Indian Wars, when Captain Pratt was put in charge of a group of
Indian prisoners who had been virtually exiled to Florida. There, Pratt engaged in reform
practices still followed today in our prison system. He made certain that the Indians at Ft.
Marion lived regimented lives-they had to work, learn to read and write in English, learn
a trade, follow a strict military discipline, and even wear uniforms. After several years,
and by an act of Congress, the Indian prisoners of war were pardoned. But some of them
had no place to go and decided to stay with Pratt. Pratt developed a plan to "better" them
and other Indians. 
First Pratt took his group of ex-convicts to Hampton Institute in Virginia, an institution
for the children of ex-slaves. After intense lobbying, Pratt convinced the U.S. government
to give him the run-down facilities of Carlisle Barracks, located in Carlisle, PA. Congress
funded his project. The money allocated for it came from the "civilization fund." While
preparing the school, Pratt simultaneously engaged in a strong recruitment effort. His
candidates for the Indian School were the elite children of the conquered tribes. He
traveled to talk in person to chiefs. He held long meetings to convince them that the
survival of their tribes lay in the ability of a new generation to learn the American way.
He stressed the need to learn to read and write English in order to maintain truthful
communication with the white man. His strategy was old as humanity, where the
conqueror takes the children of the conquered, educates the new generation, and creates
future leaders loyal to the new government. 
Several important U.S. leaders were convinced by Pratt, as well as Indian leaders, and he
returned to his new school with his precious cargo of Indian royalty. The school was a
work in progress, and Pratt pushed on with his project, even though the youngsters under
his care suffered. 
Everyday life at the Carlisle Industrial Indian School was totally regimented. A strict
schedule was followed. The newly arrived youngsters were forbidden to speak their
native languages, and their physical appearance was transformed the moment they
stepped into the school. All Indian regalia was discarded and late nineteenth century attire
was handed to them to put on. The boys' long hair was cut short and in some cases the
girls' long hair was also cut. The children were taught to read and write English, were
motivated to join a Protestant Christian denomination, and were given vocational training
in such areas as farming, baking, printing, shoemaking, etc. 
The students' formal education was completed with an "outing" system. The students
were sent out to live with local families for several months of the year. The stated
purpose was to teach them to live and emulate the American life, but many of them were
treated as servants and given no positive education-just shame came from the experience.
It is important to mention, however, that some of the students were well treated and lived
as members of the local family. 
The Spanish American War
By the end of the Indian Wars, the U.S. government had its eyes on the Caribbean. The
sinking of the Maine, an event that is still a mystery to this date, unleashed what the U.S.
leaders had wanted for a long time, an excuse to fight the Spaniards and expand into the
Caribbean. Teddy Roosevelt called the Spanish American War "a splendid little war."
Cuba and Puerto Rico were conquered in record time (although the Philippines was a
different story). Victorious Americans came to the Caribbean, mostly for strategic,
military, and economic reasons. Some of them came filled with prejudice about the
people who inhabited the islands. The very name given to the Antilles-West Indies-
conjured up images of cartoonish Indian "coolie" characters. The Americans found
Puerto Rico impoverished because the Spanish Crown had abandoned it and because
there was no middle class. Poor Puerto Ricans lived in thatched roof houses, although the
upper classes lived in comfortable abundance (see Figure 1). 
V 7~ - *f-
Poor "barrio" in Aguadilla Puerto Rico circa 1899. Poverty was interpreted as inferiority
by the U.S. invading forces.
Source: www.rootsweb.com/~prsanjua/phot 1 .htm
Even educated blacks in the U.S. thought that the inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands
were inferior. Booker T. Washington stated his interest in educating the Cubans and
Puerto Ricans and, after the fact, mentioned the "elevating" benefits of industrial
education in a letter published in 1900:
In addition to the problem of educating eight million negroes in
our Southern States and in grafting them into American
citizenship, we now have the additional responsibility, either
directly or indirectly, of educating and elevating about eight
hundred thousand others of African descent in Cuba and Porto
Rico, to say nothing of the white people of these islands, many of
whom are in a condition about as deplorable as that of the
negroes. We have, however, one advantage in approaching the
question of the education of our new neighbors. The experience
that we have passed through in the Southern States during the last
thirty years in the education of my race, whose history and needs
are not very different from the history and needs of the Cubans and
Porto Ricans, will prove most valuable in elevating the blacks of
the West Indian Islands. To tell what has already been
accomplished in the South under most difficult circumstances is to
tell what may be done in Cuba and Porto Rico. -
The expansion of the United States grew after the SpanishAmerican War, to the dismay
of many citizens who strongly criticized the government, as we can see in the editorial
cartoons of the times. It was at this historical juncture that the destinies of the African
Americans, Native Americans, and Puerto Ricans collided. 
A small group of men were the architects of the idea to send Puerto Rican children to the
Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an almost forgotten chapter of Puerto Rican history and
colonialism. Richard Henry Pratt, John Eaton, and Nelson Miles knew each other well.
They had served in the U.S. Army and all rose through the ranks by using a mixture of
intelligence, leadership, and effort. They had in common their service in the Civil War
and Indian Wars, and were in charge of Indian scout units as well as Buffalo Soldier
Pratt convinced leaders of the U.S. government of the worthiness of his social experiment
with the children of Indian chiefs. 
Meanwhile Eaton, who was a star, rapidly rose through the government ranks and went
from being Director of the Freedman and Slaves Bureau, to Director of Indian Affairs,
and then was called upon to organize a new Bureau of Education. The life of Miles, who
was once described as a "brave peacock," was full of controversy, basically because he
was loud and opinionated, and because he betrayed his Indian scouts. But he was
influential. After the Spanish American War, Miles invited Eaton to be the first Secretary
of Education of Puerto Rico. Eaton's stay in Puerto Rico was short, but his radical
changes to the education system in Puerto Rico still remain today. 
Eaton was the moving intellectual force behind the plan to Americanize the Puerto
Ricans using an off-shoot of Pratt's Carlisle Plan that was already in place for the
Indians. He was a close personal friend of Richard H. Pratt; his frequent visits to Carlisle
Indian School are well documented in the school's newspaper, The Indian Helper. As
first Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico, the Carlisle Scholarship Program was Eaton's
brainchild. He was unable to put it into full motion, however, because of serious health
problems that forced him to leave the island very soon after his arrival. His successor, Dr.
Martin Grove Brumbaugh (1901), was the one who really implemented the program. 
Brumbaugh knew where he was sending the Puerto Rican youngsters because he was a
native of Pennsylvania and later became governor of that state. Brumbaugh used the same
proven program developed by Pratt and approached the elite families of Puerto Rico-the
majority of the youngsters sent to Carlisle were the children of the upper class families of
Puerto Rico, the children of the leaders, the children of the caciques. Brumbaugh used a
one-on-one personal approach, with arguments about the advantages of educating their
kids or losing them due to ignorance of the new system, to convince the landowners and
professionals of Puerto Rico to send their children to participate in the scholarship
program at the Carlisle School. 
The philosophy behind sending the children of elite Puerto Ricans to Carlisle School was
the same one that Pratt stated in 1882: "...the school serves a double purpose-first as an
educating influence on those who are here and second as an educating and controlling
influence."- These men-Pratt, Eaton, Miles, and Brumbaugh-joined forces and put
together a plan to "civilize" the Puerto Ricans. 
The Puerto Rican Youngsters at Carlisle IndianSchool
The story of these youngsters is not told in history books and until recently only a handful
of people knew about the so-called "Porto Rican Indians." While researching for my
Master's degree thesis, I stumbled onto this almost forgotten chapter of Puerto Rican
History. First Gina Rosario mentioned the story to me and then she steered me in the
direction of Jorge Estevez (Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian), who
generously shared with me his knowledge and some of his research. The facts where
there-a group of sixty plus Puerto Rican youngsters were sent to the city of Carlisle,
Pennsylvania, to an Indian industrial boarding school-but the picture was not very clear
(see Figure 2). 
Questions kept recurring while reading about the school's history and the Puerto Rican
youngsters who were sent there. These questions included:
1. Who were these Puerto Rican youngsters?
2. Who sent them to Carlisle?
3. Who paid for their education?
4. Why Carlisle?
5. Were these youngsters Taino Indians?
6. What kind of lives did they have after leaving Carlisle? 
As I sought the answers to these questions, a series of human stories began to unfold.
Several answers were to be found within the records kept at the National Archives
(NARA, folio 75). Carlisle itself also has many records with enlightening information
about those Puerto Rican students including, in many cases, long letters answering
surveys sent by the school to inform the superintendent of Carlisle about their lives after
leaving the institution. Another part of the story came from three articles published in the
U.S. and Puerto Rican press, and from the school's newspaper. 
Not long after their arrival at Carlisle, the parents of the students who had been selected
to go there began receiving letters from their children about the bad conditions at the
school, to the parents' great surprise. Several of those parents approached the well known
leader and politician Luis Munoz Rivera: 
One of the most famous men in the political history of Puerto Rico,
Luis Munoz Rivera [see Figure 3] devoted his life to the struggle
for the political autonomy of Puerto Rico. In 1901, while living in
New York, Munoz Rivera established the Puerto Rican Herald, a
bilingual newspaper. Munoz Rivera returned to Puerto Rico in
1904 and became one of the founders of the Unionist Party. In
1906 he was elected to the House of Delegates as a Unionist and
was twice reelected, serving until 1910, when he was elected
Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives. '-
Luis Munoz-Rivera was a well known Puerto Rican political figure. Several
parents contacted him with complaints about Carlisle Indian School, after
reading the complaints he went personally to inspect the school. His
findings were published in the New York Newpaper The Puerto Rican Herald in
1901. Source: http://www.loc.gov/rr/hispanic/1898/munoz.html
Munoz Rivera went to visit the Carlisle Indian Industrial School to find out for himself
and the concerned parents what the conditions there were like. In the Puerto Rican
Herald, he wrote about his visit in August 1901 :
The letters of diverse students and their parents, from several
places of the island, gave me a firm impression that the education
was very bad and the food was detestable at the Indian School.
Since I went there without any other purpose than rectifying or
verifying those impressions, I asked each student individually
about their personal experiences. All agreed with both extremes:
"...here we eat bad and we are not well. " -
Apparently there had been a general perception among the Puerto Rican parents that they
were sending their children to the school to receive a higher education. Munoz Rivera
addressed that lie. He wrote :
Those who thought that their sons and daughters would become
doctors, lawyers or architects were deceived. Some say that those
careers were available to them in Puerto Rico. I resist admitting
that Mr. Brumbaugh, whom I hold as an intelligent educator and
serious person, had promised things that in reality could not be
true. If those offers were to be confirmed, then a grave charge
would result against the department of education. -
Munoz Rivera offered to take the kids back home, but the youngsters took a vote and
decided to stay. One might infer that they wanted to return to Puerto Rico triumphant.
Two revealing documents are articles written by Angela Rivera-Tudo and Dr. Juan Jose
Osuna, two Puerto Ricans who, as youths, were students sent to Carlisle. Rivera-Tudo's
article is titled "The Puerto Rican Indians." Here are some excerpts from what, at first
sight, appears to be a simple invitation to a high school reunion :
Only those of us who went and experienced the misfortunes of this
kind of experience in adolescence, since most of us had graduated
from eighth grade as did others soon after their arrival in that land
[the United States], I repeat, only we can attest to the suffering.
Rivera-Tudo explains in detail her anguish and goes on to defend the worthiness of the
Puerto Rican students sent to Carlisle: 
/ have always been an independent spirit. For me, the situation
amounted to an unforgivable injustice, abusive treatment by our
[U.S.] "masters, " directed to denigrating Puerto Ricans further,
by their choosing the only college they had for educating and
civilizing the savage Redskin Indians for also educating and
"civilizing " the wretched Puerto Ricans. And, to make matters
worse, those of us who were there represented the best that Puerto
Rico had. Tangible proof of this is that in spite of these unpleasant
and foreboding beginnings, all or most of us have made positive
contributions to our Motherland and have not shown any rancor
toward Americans since not all of them are equally guilty of the
harm one of them did to us. -
Dr. Juan Jose Osuna, a leading scholar and Puerto Rican educator, wrote about his
misfortunes in Carlisle in the scholarly journal Summer School Review in 1932. Probably
he wrote it after the reunion at Angela Rivera-Tudo's house. His words paint a detailed
picture of how he manipulated the outing system to stay out of Carlisle: 
/ worked therefor the summer and went to school during the
academic year of 1901-1902. Of the rest of my companions, some
stayed like myself to work and study; some ran away and returned
to Puerto Rico; and the parents of the well to do either sent for
their children or transferred them to other schools. We were a very
disappointed lot. I had decided to become a lawyer, but I did not
see that in this school I would ever get nearer my goal. -
It is sad and poignant to read his description of how he was treated :
As I was different from the Indians and also somewhat different
from the Americans, I became a curiosity. On Sunday afternoons,
people from all over that section of the country that came
purposely to see Miss Mira's new boy visited the place. They had
heard that he was not an Indian, that he had come from Puerto
Rico; and they wanted to see what Puerto Ricans looked like. -
Osuna closes his article by telling us about his last days as a Carlisle alumnus: 
In the spring of 1905, I received a letter reminding me that I was
still a Carlisle student, but that the authorities felt that I was
advanced enough to graduate from the institution and sever my
relationship with the Federal Government. ...I went to Carlisle,
attended commencement; ... I received a diploma of the Carlisle
Indian Industrial School. I graduated with the class of 1905; I am
an alumnus of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. I am an
Indian in spite of myself. —
These newspaper articles show one side of Carlisle, but the documents found at NARA
show another perspective. The first set of documents, created when the students first
arrived at the school, was the Descriptive and Historical Record of the Students (see
Figure 4). These consisted of cards that included such data as: 
2) Parents name
4) Blood (Quantum)
5) Age at arrival
6) Date of arrival
7) Date of departure
8) Reason for departure
CARLISLE INDIAN INDUSTRIAL 3CH0CL.
DtSCWFTIVt AHt> HHTIOWCAi. BEtOHR Of B"raD4HT.
im T^riij^-fct^ jj
114 Tl BiKUUOn
. UUli ct ctlCM^K
T^Lru-- J.^ i<li.J L
Mflcii •*)* Aid un<U
y-M^-f^y^-J J^^^^ . ~jO\0L4^ *irJfT,,^rjJ J ^JL* J r J ££, sf ■ *ZJ
Using the information provided on the individual student records and some of the letters
written by the students, I created a database that provides a partially detailed picture of
who these youngsters were. Some of the interesting facts include: 
1 . A group of at least sixty "boricuas" were sent to Carlisle Indian School. (Probably
the group reached one hundred.)
2. Under the "tribe" category, the word "Porto Rican" was written.
3. The first Puerto Rican arrived in 1899.
4. The Puerto Ricans who went to Carlisle were from the following municipalities:
San Juan (11), Ponce (6), Mayaguez (3), Yauco (2), and Fajardo (2). There were
also one each from the following cities and towns: Guayama, Utuado, Cabo Rojo,
Hatillo, Bayamon, Caguas, Arecibo, Juncos, Lajas, Quebradillas, Aguadilla,
Ciales, Barceloneta, Humacao, Juana Diaz, Barranquitas, Ensenada, Yauco. If you
follow the names of the municipalities and place them on a map of Puerto Rico,
you can see the route of old Puerto Rico Road Number Two or the Military Road.
Also you can follow the route of the train that ran parallel to that road (see map at
5. At least five of the young Puerto Ricans ran away: Santiago Montano, Castulo
Rodriguez, Luis Sanchez, Antonio Pagan, and Rafael Gaudier.
6. Parents requested the return of eleven students.
7. The youngest Puerto Rican sent to Carlisle was twelve years old. Her name was
Olimpia Morales. The average age of the kids sent was 15.33 years old.
8. Some of the kids were orphans or had only one parent.
9. In my records, I have the names of 17 of the girls and 35 of the boys.
10. There seems to be confusion in the use of surnames, probably because of the
Americans' lack of understanding of the Hispanic tradition of using both
11. The students arrived in small groups. A group of eleven youngsters from Puerto
Rico arrived at Carlisle Indian School on May 2, 1901. The group was made up of
ten boys and one girl. On May 21, 1901, another large group of youngsters
arrived from the island. The group was made up of four boys and eight girls. A
total of 37 youngsters arrived at Carlisle Indian School during 1901.
12. Concebida Duchesne was orphaned and thirteen years old at the time she arrived.
Her record mentions that she was adopted by her patrons.
13. A group of three (maybe more) of the Puerto Rican Carlisle students joined the
"Porto Rican Provisional Regiment" and were the first islanders who rose to the
ranks of officers in the U.S. Army.
14. Miguel de Jesus, Maria M. Castro, and Felfcita Medina were 18 years old when
they arrived at Carlisle.
15. Delores Nieves was classified as a "Negro-Puerto Rican." After her departure, she
wrote several letters on behalf of an orphaned child. She asked the administration
to accept the boy at Carlisle. Her request was denied.
16. Vicente Figueroa stayed in Carlisle and married Louise Taylor. There are several
letters from him to Carlisle.
17. J.A.E. Rodriguez's letters to the Carlisle Indian School had the letterhead of the
San Juan Baseball Grounds. The letterhead describes him as president and
treasurer of the San Juan Baseball Grounds, making him an important part of
Puerto Rican baseball history (see letter at
t- 2. SsariguK, h, L Soto, a. C.PSres,
THt^ BALL PARK AT ^ frON
0. BOX 11;
-*-<p^ San. Juan, P. a., ^IA&l 1 ^ - l9 ,_
&r. ^a» friechiaA,
» » ■
SHpt. Carlisle Indian School,
U& dear Mr. Friedman:
Souse daya ago there cam© to my office 1 a
young wan "by the n&iae of Iftie C. Varela to a^.ae
contain .guegtioas regarding the School,, 1 tali
Ma Trltat the Bcbool was &n£ .also talA MarwJiat r^y
time in said ocfcool aid for ns&* At hi a r&quetat I
i . > . ,**
an writing this to a&h you if it would, he " ^o sell) la to'
admit Mm there flree of asy charge-, ffijila'i Mto not
known Ma for snch a .long, tine .1 am told by per eons
closely associated with HAtn that he 1 is a fine boy..
I note 'front yoror last catalogue tnut you have -me
as employed with, tho railroad company. I; wish to Etate-
tfcat for the laa"& : "fOBr years I haTe not' teen qoimecred
i 1 "
with ssdil -boapany hut hare o&an.einplcyed hy the Insular
GoTentimant of JForto 3ico in the Offioe of the Auditor
as an SzjiGrt Aodormtant 'iTiiih a compensation of yfijOQQ.OQ
jer annum -and a ^er diem of $2 ,50 n-hert ozl; the road.
With, heat r Beards to old fr lands at the I ear old
place and the host of success for Carlis-la.. ? ■. S-cR?*
18. There is a letter that Providencia Martinez wrote to Carlisle mentioning how
much her father suffered when he found out she was attending an Indian School.
19. Matilde Gamier wrote about the improvements in the educational system in
Puerto Rico. She wrote in a letter dated 1911: "Porto Rico has improved a great
deal since the Americans came up here."
20. The letters written by the Puerto Ricans are very positive, thankful letters.
21. The majority of the kids belonged to elite families.
22. Some of the families still had close ties to Spain. 
The descendants of the Puerto Ricans at Carlisle
The fragmented picture painted by the letters and documents did not shed enough light on
the students and their lives, so I started research on genealogies. I searched the Ellis
Island records online, the Mormon records and every Puerto Rican genealogy site that I
could access. I found scattered information. 
The first living relatives of the Carlisle Student I was able to find were the family of
Elvira Velez. Laura Irrizary answered my e-mail and painted a full picture of the Velez
Family. Francisco Velez, Elvira's father, was a landowner of a big sugar-cane plantation.
He was rich and was elected major of Lajas, a town located in the southwest coast of PR,
after the U.S. invasion. Besides Elvira, he also had two sons, whom he sent to study
medicine in the U.S. at Georgetown University. After her return to Puerto Rico, Elvira
married Gustavo Grana, and together they owned a pharmacy. One of her grandchildren
has a genealogical website were he has posted her picture.— I held a very interesting
conversation with her only surviving child, retired engineer Gustavo Grana. Elvira told
her family that she went to high school in PA. Specifically, she mentioned Dickinson
Prep School, but never mentioned Carlisle Indian School. 
Concebida Duchesne came from a very musically talented family. Her father was a
known musician during Spanish rule and her brother Rafael Duchesne-Mondrfguez was
one of the great composers of la danza puertorriquena. Concebida' s record at Carlisle
mentions that she was adopted by her patrons. One of the surveys the school sent was
answered by her patron, stating that she was studying to be a teacher and planning to
return to Puerto Rico. She studied at Bloomsburg College, now Bloomsburg University.
Her great grandnephew, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Doctor Juan
Duchesne, wrote: 
My father tells me that he knew of an "aunt Conci" that was a teacher in the U.S. He
never saw her. He only remembers that his father Rafael (aunt Conci's brother) would
write to her often. Her letters would always be written in English. She would tell Rafael
that "she had been converted into an American" and that she could no longer speak in
Spanish nor live in Puerto Rico. That is what my father remembers. He referred me to my
Uncle Francisco whom I contacted immediately on the phone. Francisco, who is older
than my father, remembers something more. He knows that Concebida ('titi Conci")
returned to Puerto Rico in the 20 's with another sister named Francisca. Both were
English teachers. They taught in the countryside of San Lorenzo, where they traveled on
mule to school. Not long afterwards, both returned to the mainland, maybe before 1930.
Paquita relocated to Boston and Concebida went to Poughkeepsie, NY. Concebida never
again returned to Puerto Rico. She married a radio announcer by the name of Joe Saldana
and she had a son. Both my uncle and father have a blind spot regarding Concebida' s
youth and education. She only would say that she was in a special place where they
"converted her into an American." —
Dr. Juan Duchesne writes about Concebida:
I asked if they knew of her schooling and they said they don't have any idea. That topic
was never spoken of in the family. When she arrived at the island to work as a teacher,
they remember that it was somewhat shocking that she was a fervent Protestant, since
they only knew Catholicism. My father says that it was said in the family hat she was of a
very dark skin, and that it made her stand out from the rest of her siblings. ^
Enrique Urrutia went to Carlisle even though his family had close ties to the Spanish
Crown. His great aunt was the wife of Don Juan Daban y Busterino, and her name was
Dona Maria Catalina de Urrutia y Montoya of Habana, Cuba. Don Juan Daban was:
The Inspector de las Tropas in Cuba when he was charged to take over as Gobernador
and Capitan Gen. of Puerto Rico in 1783. He came to the island with his wife, Dona
Maria Catalina de Urrutia y Montoya Spain.—
Peter Reilly, grandnephew of Urrutia, wrote: "The family has a rich military history and,
in fact, was prominent in governing and protecting much ofSpain's lands in the New
World from the 17th century up to the Spanish-American War".— Jorge Urrutia, another
nephew, wrote: "I met Tia Pura and Tfo Enrique in the late 1950's in their plush San
Patricio home before they left the island to live in the Washington D.C. area." 
Enrique Urrutia joined the Puerto Rico Provisional Regiment after leaving Carlisle. He
was one of the first group of Puerto Rican officers in the U.S. Army and retired as a
colonel after serving in both World Wars (see Figure 7). His son and grandson followed
in his footsteps as officers of the U.S. Army. Enrique is buried in Arlington National
Cemetery. I was able to trace the family of Enrique Urrutia, who never told his family
that he went to Carlisle Indian Industrial School. 
First Lieu tenant ^ferltm* Urratia , U.S. A, * OarlialB
hoy from p trtt 11M,
Eariqtw lef* Garlisle in X#ae after a term of fonr
ywi said returned to Mb home la 9aa ft**, Perto Rial, H»
worked at his trade aa printer for two yeara at JntJlOdollars
a week aasieting in the aupperta a* hi a aafrbar and slater,
During thie tine he attended nlgfet &ehiel*
Ha than tool: t e ^lril Sec**** e^esinatittn and reosiyed
an anpointtnont ne clerk in Pay t*$ftr*j>e*4 it*? *are *t
oerattty rlellara per mantfe* fhe next year he wa» wewotefl
to eighty p r neath and. the fallowing rear to ninety per
south. srhlle holdiar thia poottioa h« oonttan^a hie edaaa-
tien and was prepared for o^aataatian far the Be|«le? Ar»y
hj AntaniB 3*4ritnei, a Cnrllele graduate,
% than took the examination t»*r anointment to the
Rogvlar *Tigp and in XtIO with three ether Parte Riaana
aeeolTed oaraiinalena aa Seeend sieateaanta in the Regular
Amy. He paased nmafber one uton$ twenty -four e&ndl&at**.
He has serred In the Regain* Jbrwy aiaaa that tiae and haa
heen promoted to ho Flrvl Stent en&nt.
sari«na, yon ha+o anle aoaa* Carlisle it proud of itB
Segular Army Off io ere*
There are three Nin families in Puerto Rico. All of them are very rich, with properties and
intellectual success (lawyers, architects, etc.). Belen Nin, after going to Carlisle, spent
several years in St. Mary's Seminary in PA. We don't know if she joined a religious
order or was simply getting in touch with her Catholic roots after the Carlisle experience.
Her family remembers her return to Puerto Rico and her shy demeanor. 
Juan Jose Osuna went to Carlisle and, as mentioned, manipulated the system to stay out
of the Indian School. Osuna, a brilliant scholar, moved around until he was able to obtain
his doctor's degree in Education. He returned to Puerto Rico, worked in the University of
Puerto Rico, and was one of the co-founders of the University Editorial House, Editorial
Universitaria. His highly acclaimed book, A History of Education in Puerto Rico, is a
well researched, scholarly study of several hundred years of education on the island.
There's even a high school in Caguas, Puerto Rico, named after him. 
Not all the Carlisle Puerto Rican stories had a happy ending. One of those is Pedro
Enrique Musignac's story. The Musignac family owned the Salinas salt processing plant
in Cabo Rojo, located in the southwestern coast of Puerto Rico. Nelliemar Musignac
wrote: "He, or maybe a son with his same name, lost the Salinas one night while drinking
and gambling." -
After several years of researching the presence of a group of Puerto Ricans at Carlisle
Indian School, I found the answers to my most compelling questions: Why were they sent
to Carlisle? Who sent them? 
They were sent to Carlisle as part of a very structured and open program to Americanize
the Puerto Ricans following the Spanish American War. Council Bill 12, enacted in 1901,
the Puerto Rican Legislature Bill 21 (1901), and later on House Bill 35, provided for
scholarship money for twenty men and women to study at technical industrial schools in
the U.S. Just like Pratt did with the Indians, visiting their leaders and convincing them of
the worthiness of sending them to Carlisle, Secretary of Education Dr. Martin
Brumbaugh convinced leaders of the Puerto Ricans to send their kids not only to Carlisle
Indian School but also to Tuskegee and Hampton, schools created to educate the ex-
slaves, now traditional African American Schools. Youngsters from Cuba were sent to
Hampton and Tuskegee, too. The Indians, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans were
forcibly mainstreamed and education was used as a principle tool on the island of Puerto
Rico as well as on the mainland: North American teachers arrived at the island with the
sole purpose of teaching in English. It was the intent not only to substitute the language
but also change the value system and 'Americanize' the Puerto Ricans through the
educational process. —
Edwin Grant Dexter, Commissioner of Education of Puerto Rico, wrote in his annual
report: "In accordance to sections 68 to 77 of the school law of Puerto Rico a number of
young men are being maintained in various schools and colleges in the United States at
the expense of the government of Puerto Rico." —
Jose-Manuel Navarro poignantly calls the process the same thing that he titled his book,
Creating Tropical Yankees. Navarro's book presents in detail the history of education in
Puerto Rico and how the schools were used openly for the Americanization of the
masses. The U.S. government had no qualms, like many other conquerors have done after
their conquest; in creating a cadre of acculturated, Americanized, and assimilated
youngsters. Those youngsters who were educated in the U.S., and their descendants after
them, were very successful after returning to Puerto Rico, and still surnames like Rexach,
Padin, Duchesne, Segui, Urrutia, Nin, Musignac, Orriola, Pinero, and Seijo are part of the
intellectual, business, and political scene of the island. 
Samuel McCune Lindsay, Secretary of Education for Puerto Rico (1902), made a very
poignant and, I believe, accurate statement in his annual report : "Colonization carried
forward by the armies of war is vastly more costly than that carried forward by the armies
of peace, whose outpost and garrisons are the public schools." ^-
An important question remains: Were those kids who were sent to the Carlisle Industrial
Indian School Taino Indians? I believe that there is no right answer to that question. The
Tamos had a sad yet surprising history. When the Spaniards came to the lands they
inhabited in the Caribbean, the Tamos were expecting them, warned by a prophecy that
told them they were going to receive the visit of white/dressed people who would kill
them. The theory of the total extinction of the Tamos was repeated generation after
generation like a gospel in the Antilles, yet the truth is that the Tamos made themselves
"invisible" to survive in the middle of the oppressive forces of the conquistadors. The
latest DNA research performed by Dr. Juan Carlos Martinez-Cruzado proves the
existence of that invisible nation among the Puerto Ricans today. In scientific testing that
has been conducted during the last three years across the island, Taino mitochondrial
DNA is being found in an astonishing percentage of the Puerto Rican people. 
On the other hand, we have genealogy. Right now the genealogy of the Puerto Ricans
whom I have been able to trace points to Spain. We need to remember that the history of
the Tamos is oral and that genealogy is a document-filled endeavor. To get a direct, exact
and correct answer as to whether or not those students who were sent to the Carlisle
Industrial Indian School were Taino Indians, we may need to use more technology. DNA
technology that can read the complete spectrum of the hereditary genes probably will
solve the riddle in the near future, when it is more easily available and more affordable.
The issue here should not be the Indian-ness of thePuerto Ricans who were sent to
Carlisle, but the fact that they were treated like the Indians. They were classified as
inferiors and not as the equals of other American students. 
The legacy of Carlisle is filled with contradictions. Some students spoke of the horrors
and the prison-like atmosphere of Carlisle, while others called it home and mentioned the
school with fondness and warmth. Which were sincere? Were some suffering from a type
of brainwashing or from the Stockholm Syndrome? Were they grateful for their
professional successes? Mitchell Bush, president of the American Indian Society, said
about the Indian school system: 
I've seen some of the more positive side. I think one thing it did for us is teach us
English... we can all understand and communicate with you.  —
I would like to conclude by mentioning the text of the marker that was newly inaugurated
on September 1, 2003, in front of the Carlisle Barracks Cemetery (see Figure 8 a,b, and
This school was the model for a nationwide system of boarding schools intended to
assimilate American Indians into mainstream culture. Over 10,000 indigenous children
attended the school between 1879-1918. Despite idealistic beginnings, the school left a
mixed and lasting legacy, creating opportunity for some students and conflicted identities
for others. In this cemetery are 186 graves of students who died while at Carlisle. —
None of the students buried in the Carlisle Barracks Cemetery are Puerto Ricans. They
were the lucky ones. They were able to return home, probably with opportunity in one
hand and conflicted identities in the other. I strongly believe that the majority of the
Puerto Rican kids, despite the pain, rose from the ashes stronger, and took the education
given at Carlisle and used it constructively to create a new and better life for themselves
and their families. The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School left a legacy of resilience
and strength. 
Figure 8 (a)
Figure 8 (c)
i THE CARLISLE INDIAN
£ INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL
ninrttwn cvlfaHw. Over IftflOD irfocnou
■ml 1911. Despite idetliiLlc b=fl
the Mhool left ■ mixed ind JiHihfl
|mkt, crciiliM oftpoftttnily for iol»e
rtidMfi and &nnktBd idcntHiM for
Olhtrv In thn i
«tudcnt* who died
- Washington, Booker T. "Signs of progress among the negroes." 1900: 472-478.
-Pratt, Richard Henry. Pratt papers. Beinecke Library, Yale University.
-Munoz Rivera, Luis. Biography. <
-Munoz Rivera, Luis. "Una visita al Indian School," Revista de genealogfa
puertorriquena. 1:2, 2000.
-Rivera-Tudo, Angela. (Translation by Vilma Irrizary) "The Puerto Rican Indians." La
Correspondencia de Puerto Rico. January 3, 1931: 4.
—Ibid. The article came to my hands thru the generous help of Dr. Vilma Irrizary.
Osuna, Juan Jose. "An Indian in Spite of Myself," Summer School Review, Vol. X, No.
— Familia Grana. Mojica Website, http://famgrana.homestead.com/raicesytroncos.html
— Duchesne, Dr. Juan Dr. Personal E-mail to author.
— Daban Family website.
— Reilly, Peter. Personal E-mail to autor.
— Urrutia, Jorge. Personal E-mail to autor.
— Musignac, Neeliemar. Personal E-mail to autor.
— Silvestrini Blanca, et al. Historia de Puerto Rico. Ediciones Cultural Panamericana,
—Report of the Governor of Puerto Rico, 1909. NARA.
^-Bush, Mitchell. Video, Carlisle Cemetery Marker Ceremony. September 1, 2003.
""-Marker in front of Carlisle Indian School Cemetery. Carlisle, PA.
Sonia Migdalia Rosa holds a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University
of Puerto Rico at Mayagiiez with a specialty in Puerto Rican Literature. Her dissertation
was titled: Acercamiento a los mitos y leyendas tainos en Puerto Rico y el Caribe.
(Approaching Taino myths and legends in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean). Her book
titled Los Mitos Tainos: Espejo de los mitos de America, (The Taino Myths" Mirror of
the American myths) will be available soon. Sonia resides in northern Virginia where she
greatly enjoys being an educator, writer, and independent researcher.
First draft submitted: 30 October 2003
Revised version: 17 November 2003
Published: 28 December 2003
Please cite this article as follows, including paragraph numbers if necessary:
Rosa, Sonia M. (2003). The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School. [58 paragraphs]
KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology [On-line
lournal]. Available at: http://kacikejournal.wordpress.com/soniarosa/ [Date of access:
Day, Month, Year].
© 2003. Sonia M. Rosa, KACIKE. All photographs provided by courtesy of Sonia M.
Rosa, unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.